‘The Lost Decade:’ Saying Goodbye Won’t Be Hard
Dr. Jason Johnson | Published 12/23/2009
We’re at the end of a really strange 10-year-period in both American and African American history. I am generally hesitant to nickname a whole decade, but in the wake of the last 10 years, I’d have to refer to it as the “Lost Decade.”
On just about every level Americans are worse off today than they were 10 years ago. As I ran through the last decade, the lowlights definitely outweighed and seemed to outlast the highlights. If you really think about it, you’ll be happy to see the first decade of the new millennium fade into history.
I’ve compiled some of my basic thoughts of the key events of the last year, and all in all it was a pretty sad series of events.
2000: The first year of this decade started with an election that was stolen, a former Vice President emasculated on a national stage and a nation that didn’t realize what we’d gotten ourselves into. Be honest, how many people would vote for Bush again if we could turn back the clock?
2001: Shoe Bombers, Anthrax and September 11th, you couldn’t come up with a more miserable year than 2001 for national security and American pride. Even worse is that these events led to the “Patriot Act,” a series of laws that have quietly turned America into a police state in the subsequent nine years.
2002: In 2000, we saw our government stolen, in 2001 we saw our national security taken, the only thing that was left to go belly up was our economic system and that began to unravel in 2002. Enron and various big business scandals dispelled any notion that the Bush administration was watching out for little people. Thousands of black stand-up comedy routines were made obsolete after the worst serial killer of the decade “the D.C. Sniper” turned out to be a black guy. Didn’t see that one coming! I guess the universe made up for it by Denzel (Washington) and Halle (Berry) getting Oscars that year. Even so, they had stereotypical roles: a drug dealing gangster with a badge and a concubine for a racist cop, respectively.
2003: This year was the beginning of the Second Gulf War, where the American public was convinced that it made sense to invade Iraq to stop a bunch of terrorists who were from Saudi Arabia. Makes sense to me. When I really want a Big Mac I always drive straight for Burger King.
2004: Everyone hoped that the 2004 presidential election would be Bush vs. Gore round two, but it wasn’t. Gore decided he’d had enough so the Democrats decided that the best way to beat him was to nominate a non-charismatic patrician from the Northeast who had about as much drawing power in the African-American community as a “Friends” marathon. Is it any wonder why the Democrats lost?
2005: It’s almost as if 2005 was America’s punishment for re-electing George Bush in 2004. This year, Condoleeza Rice was named Secretary of State just in time to be caught buying shoes and watching a Broadway play while New Orleans was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. You can’t make up this kind of incompetence.
2006: The Democrats finally re-take Congress after being out of power for 12 years. And then proceed to kowtow to Bush for just about any policy that he calls for. You could hardly tell the difference in polices out of Washington despite this supposed “takeover.”
2007: I’ve written about 2007 in a previous column. I’ll sum it up in 4 names: Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Don Imus and Jena 6. Not really a banner year in American race relations.
2008: The longest reality show in the history of politics ended with THE election of Barack H. Obama as the first African-American president of the United States. The jury is still out as to whether that was good or not.
Heading into this next decade we have massive unemployment, wars we are waging in two nations and a center-to-left political party that is so inept and beholden to financial interests that they struggle to pass basic healthcare reform. This doesn’t necessarily look like a recipe for initiating a new golden age in America. However, we have to remember that the possibilities are endless; no one would’ve believed in 2000 that in eight years there’d be an African-American president. So, if that can happen, the sky should be the limits for the 2010’s.
(Dr. Jason Johnson is an associate professor of political science and communications at Hiram College in Ohio, where he teaches courses in campaigns and elections, pop culture, and the politics of sports. He can be reached at email@example.com.)
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